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Tag Archives: EMS

Vote #1 Environment, Promoting Sustainability in Times of Uncertainty

Frequent ‘extreme’ climate disasters, a pandemic and international conflict…the unprecedented has become the precedented. Now more than ever, during times of great uncertainty, governments and businesses must take urgent climate action. This is a wake up call to business, it is startlingly evident that no one is exempt from the impacts of climate change, conflict and Covid. The interconnectedness of commodity markets and global supply chains in our ever-more globalised world, highlighted by the recent energy price shocks and Covid-19 pandemic, will mean flow-on effects will touch every type of business in every location. An intimidating prospect to be sure.

Uncertain times are arguably the best time to change practices and habits. Or better yet, make proactive changes to safeguard and reduce the likelihood of risk before uncertainty. A proactive move now to sustainable practices could minimise the impacts felt by economic disruptions and supply chain collapses due climate disasters, international conflicts and the COVID 19 pandemic. Promoting local manufacturing and trade, incentivising the transition to renewable energy generation and nation-wide targets in line with global leaders of climate action would help to mitigate the inescapable risk of international supply chain collapses, shipping delays, energy uncertainty and economic burden of rising fossil fuel prices.

An opportunity exists, to mitigate these risks, creating a resilient and robust system that is both securing its financial future and remedying past wrong-doings against the environment. The solution to help mitigate climate change is in fact a solution to our future inevitable financial woes. Scientists are still analyzing the correlation of climate change and the severe flooding occurring in New South Wales and Queensland. However we do know that climate change will increase the intensity and frequency of these extreme weather events. There will be huge financial challenges ahead for councils to rebuild their communities, but if we can secure natural assets we can secure markets and future growth. Government and businesses investments in promoting the switch to a cleaner electric vehicle would also mitigate the economic burden felt by rising fuel prices whilst lowering carbon emissions and the use of finite resources. Take a risk lense when looking at sustainability and climate change. For companies,governments and businesses the risk of climate inaction far outweighs the requirements to do something now. What we can see from covid response globally is how easy it can be to adapt.

This time of uncertainty presents some exciting opportunities for all areas of business to make an impact. The sustainability movement is moving beyond the messaging of “please recycle” and “switch off the lights”, to look at core roles within core industries, and how they can impact change. Industry and government need to be change makers and apply a sustainability lense to what they are working through to create benefits that will support business, community and society in these “unprecedented” times. Tangible changes from business and governments such as a switch to renewable energy, creating a carbon management program, changing travel processes, increasing building efficiency, supporting local supply changes can all limit the impacts felt by uncertainty. Funding opportunities and grants are available to businesses, councils and governments to support the progression towards a sustainable economy and society. Our projects at Equilibrium have helped clients deliver impactful changes across a wide range of sectors and service areas. Globalization, industry connections and the broadness of sustainability means impacts are affecting every industry, company and supply chain, everyone has an opportunity to contribute.

Placing an emphasis on supplier sustainability

Organisations in Australia are demanding more environmental reporting, driving suppliers to update and make mandatory environmental commitments and changes. This is a growing trend in the agricultural industry and supply chain in particular. Large companies such as Coles and Woolworths are seeking additional control and oversight, requiring their suppliers to help them meet their environmental targets. 

Last week the Coles group announced a “together to zero” campaign, outlining a collaborative scheme with consumers and its supply chain to meet their emissions targets. The group announced plans to be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2025 and to cut operational emissions by 75% below FY20 levels by 2030. 

Equilibrium is working with a number of suppliers in the agriculture and food manufacturing sectors to develop and implement sustainability programs, including Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

An EMS aims to implement a plan and system of environmental actions and targets which align with the company’s environmental policy and business objectives and extend all the way to a ground level approach. An EMS is a journey of continuous improvement (plan > do > check > act) and assists organisations to manage their environmental impacts through; 

> Achieving and maintaining compliance with relevant environmental laws, standards and the company’s environmental commitment
>Establishing systematic risk management processes to identify and rectify environmental risks;
>Establish a required level or environmental performance within the groups corporate environment to prevent the occurrence of events that are likely to significantly impact the environment
>Enabling visibility and periodic evaluation of environmental targets and performance metrics for decision making

The movement towards corporate responsibility, the ambition of businesses to meet their environmental objectives and better business outcomes are increasingly seen as mutually inclusive.

Setting up an Environmental Management System (EMS)

An Environmental management system (EMS) can be a powerful tool to not only monitor and manage environmental impacts but also as an instrument for overall organisational improvement.

When well developed, implemented and used to full effect, an EMS can of course reduce environmental risks and harm, but can also:

> leverage efficiencies and cost reduction;

> facilitate cultural change and engagement; and

> support competitive advantages and brand differentiation.

Like any business system, whether for safety or quality or other businesses elements, the effectiveness of an EMS is ultimately a function of the effort and commitment that goes in to executing and employing the system.

As a guide to getting started, the basis of an EMS is often about getting data right. Tracking key environmental impacts such as energy, water, waste and greenhouse emissions forms the foundation to understand an organisation’s environmental footprint, issues and opportunities.

An EMS then establishes a framework to guide decisions that have a material effect on those impacts. Policies and procedures then provide guidance and instructions on how people are expected to operate, day to day requirements and what is the desired outcome.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework to manage the environmental performance of a company’s activities while helping to ensure environmental compliance. An EMS provides a structured approach to identifying and managing environmental impacts, targets, responsibilities, priorities and actions.

As with many systems there is of course an international standard for EMS, ISO14001. The standard is a great framework whether an organisation seeks accreditation or not. With or without that standard, a good EMS covers off on:

Regulations and compliance

> Does your organisation have an environmental strategy and policy and is it compliant with environmental laws and regulations?

Roles and responsibilities

> Does the company have an Environmental manager or someone responsible for environmental issues and conduct environmental training and induction?

Monitoring and Reporting

> Do you currently measure and record key environmental impacts and is there an Environmental Risk Assessment?

Environmental control

> Are you aware of your organisations environmental risks, impacts and significant aspects relating to activities and operations?

As the following shows, an EMS can be developed and implemented in a relatively short time and then the on-going benefits accrue and drive on-going benefits.

It has been noticeable that there is an increased take up of EMS. In the last 12-18 months Equilibrium has fielded increased inquiries from organisations seeking advice and support to det an EMS and gain greater control of their environmental impacts.

The stated reasons are many. Some are motivated by their customers, clients or the market generally and want to be seen to be doing the right thing, others recognise the need to measure so you can manage, and others are on a longer journey where environmental management is a foundation piece in a values driven approach to overall sustainability.

Whatever the inspiration, a good EMS is a solid approach to organisational and reputational improvement.

If your business is interested insetting up an EMS, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Visit our Case Studies page to see some prior EMS projects.

Virtual Site Audits in Covid-19 Restrictions

With Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disrupting businesses on a number of levels, Equilibrium has been working with our clients on bringing back businesses’ normal activities and maintaining a presence in state lock-down situations and travel restrictions.

Many compliance systems rely on physical site visits to audit a company or facility to assess if it is meeting any specific environmental management requirements and is operating in a way that protects its workers’ health and safety. While restrictions make it difficult to undertake these audits in the traditional sense, Equilibrium has developed a protocol for performing remote virtual audits.

The procedure has been developed rapidly over the past 4 months to ensure our clients are still able to participate in an audit program. It closely aligns with existing audit methodology, covering all the same aspects, such as environmentally sound practices, regulation safety, and legitimacy but is flexible enough to be expanded and altered for many other applications.

The audit utilises smart phone live stream applications to enable a virtual walk through of operational areas. Through the app, Equilibrium directs the site representative to live stream areas of potential concern based on previous audit reports and the most recent satellite imagery.

This process does not require any new technology or substantial equipment as it simply uses the site representative’s mobile device. There is potential depending on the app for the audit to be recorded as well, further adding evidence to the audit findings.

As per previous developed protocols, the audits are undertaken in combination and in parallel with data analysis and documentation reviews, allowing for much of the preliminary assessment to be completed online.

Unsure of when restrictions will ease or increase in any region, developing a protocol and capability to effectively carry out virtual audits is crucial to ensuring companies maintain compliance requirements, upholding the safety and sustainability of their operations.

If you are interested in discussing virtual audits, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

That’s Rubbish – Why Your Business Should Be Considering an EMS

Every organisation will have an impact on the environment. However you might be surprised to learn the extent of the environmental impact that your day-to-day operations are having. The costs to the environment and your bottom line are greater than you think.

Consider a small office-based organisation. Large amounts of paper may be printed from energy-hungry printers that do not have their default set to double-sided print. Lights and temperature control may be left on when not needed and staff air travel contributes not just to frequent flyer points, but also to global greenhouse emissions.

Fortunately there are ways to reduce the environmental footprint of your business that go beyond simply changing to eco-friendly light bulbs. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a long-term structured solution that can help your business manage its environmental impact while increasing business efficiency.

What is an Environmental Management System Exactly?

Just about every astute business will have an integrated financial management system in place that will help to monitor the financial performance of the company. Similarly, an EMS is a structured framework that monitors the environmental performance of a company and integrates environmental compliance into the daily operations of your business.

An EMS is a powerful tool for your business to simultaneously increase business efficiency while improving its environmental performance.

How can my business benefit by implementing an EMS?

Rather than being a passive bystander, an effective EMS will prompt your business to actively examine its practices. Reviewing your operations and activities to identify the environmental impact of your business may reveal that certain processes and equipment are chewing up more power or contributing more waste than you can afford.

An EMS will then guide you through the process of developing targets, responsibilities, priorities and actions that help to manage environmental impact in a way that is unique to your organisation.

Some of the benefits you can come to expect with a properly integrated EMS include:

> Maximising the efficient use of company resources;
> Reducing waste;
> Saving on utilities such as electricity and water;
> Creating environmentally sustainable company policies in purchasing and transport;
> Demonstrating a good corporate image while growing your customer base;
> Building staff engagement and awareness in environmental issues;
> Gaining a better understanding of the environmental impact of business activities;
> Ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and minimising environmental liabilities.

What Next?

Equilibrium has worked with a large range of organisations of varying types and sizes to assess their need for an EMS and the likely costs and benefits. From logistics to offices, from telecommunications to retailers, Equilibrium has experience and insights that can efficiently and effectively indicate the benefits an EMS can deliver.